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R. Dalitz and G. Stone, "Mato Kosyk in America," 

Letopis 24 (February 1977): 42-79. 

Ma to Kosyk in America 


1. Introduction 

In an article published in 1946 Tadeusz Grabowski managed to assemble 
« large Property of the known fact, concerning the life of the Lower Ser- 
bian poet, Mato Kosyk.' So far as we know, there has never been a comprehen- 
sive study of the port's life and works, and Grabowski's article is the fullest 
account of the main events in Kosyk's life yet published. The lack of a critical 
monograph naakes it difficult to assess the exact position of Kosyk in Serbian 
literature, but ft seems unlikely that there would be much opposition to a view 

«S hL 8l " eate ^ L u°T r S ° rbian ^ and H ia P robab 'y reasonable to 
legdidhim as one of the leading figures in Sorhian literature as a whole 

occupying « place not far behind Handrij Zejler and Jakub Bart-CiHnskt ' 

many of the details have been obscured for one reason or another. Even the 
exact date and place of his death remained unknown until recently. Frido 

fwL S , ,?• *&* ln * e S0 '' bi{m Bi0 §«PWcal Dictionai-y states simply 
that he died in 1940 in the U.S.A." 

Grabowski was well aware of the lack of information on many aspects of 
Kosyk s b.ographv .particularly from the years (the greater part of the poet's 
hie) spent ui the U.S.A. On this subject Grabowski wrote : 

Blizszycb szczegqlow z pobytu Kdsyka w Ameryce P61n„ gdzie spedzil 
dwte trzecie swego zycia, niestety nie znamy. Epoka fa otoczona jest jakas 
dznvnfs tajemnic^. Spoza jej zaslony wylonit si? zaledwie drobny fragment 
w postact ogloszonej w r. 192S w czasopismie „Luzica« cz^tki autobio- 
gratn Kosyka obe.jmuja.cej zaledwie lata jego pierwszej mlodosci z kilku 
wzmiankami o pobycie w Stanach Zjednoczonych. Mozliwe, ze ze wzsle- 
dow pohtycznych me podobna bylo dotychczas oglaszac tej ciekawei 
spow.edzi zycia sedziwego pisarza. Dzis jednak, kiedy stosunki polityczne 
zmiemly sie catkowicie, nic nie powinno stance na przeszkodzie opubli- 
kowanm calosci autobiografii najstarszego pioniera odrodzenia Dolnych 
i^uzyc. Ostatnio nawet daty smierci Kosyka nie udalo si e ustalic ' 

h Jwl°^ bre t k °i S* u SeC °" d W ° rld War had P'^"ted communication 
between Kosyk and his homeland during the last years of his life, and Gra- 


™1 J^" ?\ ° l " * b ° W S k l ' Sprawy l u*V ck ™- M ato Kosyk. Najprzedmejszv ' 
pceta Dolnych Luzyc, Przeglqd zachodni, II, 1946. pp. 1033-45 

i ■" i a J I* l " S k h Mat0 Kosyk ° Polsce l w p * l * C3 > Letopis Institute za serb 

> Serbski biogTafcki slownik, Bautzen, 1970, pp. 132-33 
1 Grabowski, op. cit. s p. 1037 

toato Kosyk in America 43 

bowski adds that in 1946 it was still thought by the Sorbs that Kosyk was 
alive and had reached his ninety-third birthday. Subsequent news from 
Prague that he had "died several years ago" did not include further details 5 

Our objective in this article is to make a contribution to Kosyk's biography 
in particular to the American part of it - the period which Grabowski said 
was covered by some strange mystery". The fact that Kosyk's years in Ame- 
rica merited research was drawn to the attention of one of the present authors 
G. Stone) by Fndo Metsk in the course of conversation in 1965. Independently 
he other author (R. Dalitz) had gathered together a number of documents 
from America, giving basic data concerning Mato Kosyk and his family, and 
the appointments held by him there. When the two authors came together 
working m adjacent colleges in Oxford, there was discussion between them 
on the outstanding questions concerning the life of Mato Kosyk and it proved 
possible later for the first author (R. Dalitz) in the course of short stays in the 
U.S.A. in 1973 and 1974 to visit some of the places where Kosyk had lived to 
interview people who had known him, and to discover further new sources 
on the poet's life." 

Before proceeding to this new information, however, it may be useful to 
summarize what is already known from various sources of Kosyk's life 7 

Mato Kosyk was born in Wjerbno (Werben) (Kr. Cottbus) on 18 June 1853 
He was the first child of a Kossat family in Wjerbno. His parents' names (as 
given on his baptismal record) were Georg Kossick (genannt Richo) and 
Maria SchiUo (Sapjatzer). With the help of the Wjerbno pastor Friedrich 
Petko, he was enabled to study at the Friedrich Wilhelm gymnasium in Cott- 
bus, but without completing his studies there left to find employment as an* 
official on the Leipzig-Dresden railway. In 1876/77 he returned to Lower 
Lusatia and from 1881 became one of the editors (together with Hajno Jordan 
and Kito Swjela) of the Bramborske Nowiny (subsequently named, after 1885 
Bramborski Casnik).In 1883, taking leave of his people and his home village 
Wjerbno, he emigrated to North America on 31 October.* In 1885, after some 
theological studies in his new homeland, he became a pastor of the Wartburg 
Synod, at Wellsburg (Iowa). Kosyk made one return visit to Lusatia in 1886 
foUowmg the death of his brother Kito." After his return to the U.S.A. in 

3 Ibid., p. 1037n. 

• A brief, preliminary note on this undertaking was published by Fndo Metsk in 
Zanmavauiuprawa po Kosykowych pucach u> USA, Rozhlad, 3, 1974, pp Yl5-I16 
- Im^fS have been included in an article published by Siegfried Ramot,' 
.._. Kseia k chlodnym Blotam zas!" in Serbska pratyja 1975, pp 46-7 

'Apart from the entry in the Sorbian Biographical Dictionary (see note 3 above) 
which includes a bibliography, the following article is useful: Gerat Hancka 
Kosyk - pozabyty delnjoserbski basnik?, Rozhlad, 12, 1970 pp. 476-82 

th.I r ° m the k?^ in thG Ausw andererregister of the Wjerbno church, written 
there presumably by pastor Bjarnat Kruswica. 

■ See Z awtobiografije Mateja Kosyka. Drugi staw. Luzica, 1928, p. 40. This essay 


R. Dalitz - G. Stone 

1887, he continued his career in the German-speaking synods of the Lutheran 
church there, finally ending up as a pastor in El Reno (Oklahoma). Little was 
known of his domestic circumstances apart from the fact that he married, that 
his wife came from Poland, and that the marriage was not particularly 
happy. 10 Later, he retired to a farm at Albion (Oklahoma) and died in 1940 
(exact date and place unknown). 11 

Kosyk's first major poetic work was his narrative poem Serbska swajzba 
w Blotach (printed in 1880), which portrayed in hexameters contemporary 
rural life in Lower Lusatia. This, was followed by his national epic Pserada 
markgroby Gera, which was first published in the Casopis Macicy Serbskeje 
in 1882. Most of his short poems were scattered throughout the literary jour- 
nals of the day, but three collections of these poems were published in book 
form during his lifetime {Zberka dolnoserbskich pesnjow, Wojerecy (Hoyers- 
werda), 1893; Pesni, I, Bautzen, 1929, and Pesni, II, Bautzen, 1930). 12 

2. Documents from the Life of Mato Kosyk and his Family 

Our picture of Kosyk's life is made more complete by the following docu- 
ments : i:1 

(I) Marriage Licence and Certificate. This shows that a licence was granted 
on 20 November 1890 by the County Judge of Lancaster County in the State 
of Nebraska to solemnize a marriage between : 

Name of parties 



of Birth 


Mathew Kossick 

Anna Wehr 



Maiden Name 









Wehr " 

Mary Schillo 


and that Mr. Mathaus (sic) Koessick (sic) and Miss Anna Wehr were duly 
joined in marriage on 21 November 1890 at Princeton, Lancaster County, by 

is reprinted in Mato Kosyk : Wuberk z jogo spisow, ed. J. Frencl, Berlin 1956 
Also Hancka, op. cit., pp. 479-80 

tl> The evidence for this is an extract from a letter written by Kosyk in 1928 
published by Frido Metsk in Chrestomatija dolnoserbskego pismowstwa II Berlin' 
1957, p. 144. (See also Sec. 5 below) 

11 Cf. Serbski biografiski slownik, p. 132. Hancka, op. cit. p. 476, however gives 
23 December 1940 as the date of Kosyk's death, but does not give his source.' 

J - The entry in Serbski biografiski slownik implies that there were four separate 
books of poetry published. The fourth book was a reprint of Pterada Markgroby 
Gera at Bautzen in 1924, as volume V in the series Dom a sivet. 

13 Photocopies are in the possession of the present authors. A copy of each item 
will be deposited with the Sorbian Cultural Archives at Bautzen upon completion 
of the present work. 

Mato Kosyk in America 45 

Pastor Jacob Morach. The witnesses were Heinz Tiedemann and Emma Tiede- 


(II) Death Certificate. This shows that Matthew Kossick, a farmer, born at 
Werben, Germany, on 18 June 1853, died at his usual residence just outside 
the town of Albion ("1 mile North") in the County of Pushmataha, State of 
Oklahoma at 1.45 p.m. on 22 November 1940, and was buried in the Cemetery 
the following day. The certificate states that he had been living in that com- 
munity for eight years (in fact, he had lived there for 28 years). The death was 
reported by Wilma Kossick, his wife, aged 58. 

(III) Baptismal Record. This is taken from the Kirchenbuch der Unabhdn- 
gigen Ver. fiir Luth. St. Paulus Kirche in Centerville Precinct, Nebr. v ' This 
was the parish of which Mato Kosyk was the pastor at this time. It, was 
generally referred to as the "Stockfeld Parish" after the name of the pastor 
who established it, but the name "Princeton Parish" is used in the Synod 
records. 15 This record reads as follows: 

1891 Nr. 28. Den Eheleuten Matthaeus Kossick (ev. luth. P.) u. Anna Jose- 
phine geb. Wehr ist am 7. Sept. 1891 ein Sohn geboren, welcher am 1. Nov. 
1891 getauft u. Georg Ludwig genannt worden. Pathen: Georg Kossick 
u. Emilie Wehr aus Deutschland (vertreten d. John Tiedemann u. Ge- 

(IV) Death Certificate. This shows that George Louis Kossick, a farmer, 
single, and born in Nebraska on 7 September 1891, the son of M. Kossick and 
Anna Kossick (nee Wehr), died of apoplexy at 3.30 p. m. on 23 August 1915 
at the village of Albion, township of Tuskahoma, County of Pushmataha, 
State of Oklahoma. ra 

(V) An Autobiographical Record. This was prepared by Kosyk in aboutj 
1925—28 in response to a request from the Statistician and Historian of the 
Nebraska Synod, for transmittal to the central body, the United Lutheran 
Church in America. He describes himself as Matthaeus Kossick, born in Wer- 
ben (Spreewald), Germany, on 18 June 1853, the son of George Kossick, a 

M This is the full title written inside the front cover of this register book. The 
book is now held at the Grace Lutheran Church, Lincoln, Nebraska. It contains no 
record of Kosyk's marriage, although it records one other marriage for the year 
1890. This parish was disbanded in 1932. 

13 The account given of this parish under the heading "St. Paul's. Princeton" on 
p. 188 of the book Story of the Midwest Synod U.L.C.A., 1890-1950 is in complete 
disagreement with the record given in this Kirchenbuch. On p. 168 of Story of the 
Midwest Synod the list of parishes served by Kosyk are given correctly and in the 
proper time sequence; the Princeton parish is included in this list. 

1G Pushmataha was a chief of the Choctaw tribe, one of the "Five Civilized 
Tribes" which had been moved in 1830 from the south-east States of America to 
the lands which became known later as the Indian Territory. The Choctaw tribe 
had been resettled in this district and Pushmataha's name was given to the county 
when this was established. Tuskahoma is Choctaw for 'red warrior', as Oklahoma 
is Choctaw for 'red people'. 


R. Dalitz- G.Stone 

farmer, and Mary Kossiek (nee Schillo). In this document Kosyk further states 
hat he studied in Germany and in the Seminary in Chicago IlHnoi ^before 

mf Sutr ^ the "T" Sy "° d at M ° Unt Pulaski ' ™™ a > on i 4 June 

XJ&SST accordms t0 his statement he held pa ™ * & 

Wellsburg, Iowa, from 1 March 1885 to 29 August 1886 » 

Ridgeley, Nebraska, from 1 June 1887 to 1 June 1889 

Princeton, Nebraska, from 1 June 1889 to 30 September 1895 

Stamford, Nebraska, from 4 July 1896. " 

Ohiowa, Nebraska, to the end of 1907, 

El Reno, Oklahoma, until Sunday Jubilate 1913 "' 

Ann° a tL State t th3t 'u N0Vembei ' 1890 at Princeton, Nebraska, he married 
Anna Wehr, who was born at Duszno, Province Posen Germanv \h B A* 1. 
of Ludwig Wehr and Emilia Wehr (nee von ZSZZ^&SZ 
one son deceased). Finally, he adds: "N. B. Because o deafness retired 
from ministry hving now on my place close to Albion, Oklahoma » 

ownii h? ^^ ReCOrdS ' US ' laW requires that the *»■•*« of land 

Zos of reglStei ' ed at , the C ° Urt ° ffiCe ° f the coun * — "-d, by the 
depos. oT an appropriate legal document, signed by the grantor (the earlier 
owner) and the grantee (the later owner) 
For Pushmataha County, the county seat is Antlers. The land documents 

held there are bound into several hundred large register books, more or te 
m the t sequence ,„ starUng from (he i9Q8 , o less 

and tne H° Pen " *""* Settlement ^ b °° ks are ««• ^ *> the P ubUc 
and the documents are indexed alphabetically, but only according to the name 

of the gran or. Consequently, the index registers readily allow us to make 

memSoftheK ^W T* ° £ ** * ^-taha" County owned b,! 
members of the family at one. time or another, and to learn how they 
d sposed of each piece. On the other hand, to determine how and when they 
acquired each piece of land is a rather difficult problem, in general A page 
by-page scan of the first three books allowed us to trace their puS^ of The 
two large p.eces of land - of 400 acres in 19 08 and 510 acres in 1909 -whch 

™i velvThe 3Sthe SeminaiT Farm and the Syn ° dical " 

be Ta ed fn mT ^T™ * S£Vera ' ° thei ' large traCtS of land c °^ no 
betoeed m this way and :t is most probable that their ownership of these 

visuIo'L^ia'trp^trove, 1886 ^ JU " e "" " ™ ted «* ^ ** -turn 

" Ka™* f01 ' WS PaStOTateS at Stamf ° rd and ° h '°-- 

KoU^SoSlA^ ^ " the ^^ " V °"" h - WaS a « -or on 

wKT^^^Z^ reSiSt " ali0n ^ *"» dela - d to " — 

22 Cf. Sec. 5. 

Mato Kosyk in America ffl 

tracts was the result of loan defaults, some years after they had settled at 
Albion. The earliest records specify the amount of money changing hands in 
the transaction, but the later records use the general formula*' "for $ 1 and 
other valuable considerations". 

For Canadian County, the county seat is El Reno. Here also there are a large 
number of register books. There is no alphabetical index, but there are sum- 
mary registers which give for each transfer the names of the grantor and 
grantee, the date on the legal document, the book and page number where 
it can be found, and the surveyor's reference for the piece of land Two pur- 
chases in 1908 and two purchases in 1911 were found by scanning these sum- 
maries; the sale of three of these pieces of land were found to take place in 
1910, 1914 and 1923. 

For the relevant Nebraska counties (Lancaster, Harlan and Fillmore) w« 
have made search only at Lincoln, the seat of Lancaster County. The records 
there are preserved on microfilm and there is no index. Further, since Lincoln 
is the capital city of Nebraska and had been in existence for many decades 
before Kosyk came to Lancaster County, the number of land transfers recorded 
is exceedingly large and no record concerning the Kossick family could be 
found. It is known from letters written by Kosyk and his wife that they 
possessed farm land in Harlan County while they lived at Stamford * Prob- 
ably they also owned land in Lancaster and Fillmore Counties, while they 
were living at Princeton and Ohiowa, respectively, but we have no documen- 
tary evidence at all concerning the nature and extent of their land ownership 
in Nebraska. 


3. Printed Sources Relevant to Kosyk's Life in America 

There are a number of useful printed sources located in the following 
publications, mostly American, viz: 

(I) Article by "Kossick, stud, theol." entitled "Ein lebendiger Denkstein 
1m Herzen Deutschlands", in Der Lutherische Kirchenfreund for 10 October 
1884, on the reverse of the title page. 25 This paper was published in Chicago 
for "Die Evangelisch-Lutherische General-Synode in den Vereinigten Staaten 
von Nord -Amerika", the editor being Prof. E. F. Giese, who was also the senior 

* Even here, the price of the land can be bracketed because the amount of the 
stamp duty payable was based on the actual money changing hands 

a This is mentioned in passing in two letters dated 3 September 1896 and addres- 
sed to Kosyk's mother, the first by Kosyk and the second by Anna Kossick The 
originals are held at the Serbian Cultural Archives at Bautzen. We are most grate- 
ful to Dr. Frido Metsk for having made available to us copies of this and several 
other letters referred to in this article. 

* This issue may also be identified as "Ganze Nummer 692" or "Jahrgang 16 
Nr. 36", both characterizations being printed on the title page. A copy of the article 
has been deposited with the Sorbian Cultural Archives of the Academy of Sciences 
of the German Democratic Republic at Bautzen. 

/lS R. Dnlilz- G.Stone 

professor of the Chicago Theological Seminary where Kosyk was then a 
student. In his article, Kosyk acquaints his readers with something of the life 
and history of the "Wends", emphasizing their reputation for faithfulness and 
piety, and describing customs connected with church attendance. He refers 
to the lack of Sorbian pastors and suggests that American philanthropists 
might help improve the situation with monetary contributions. The article 
closes with some lines of verse in Lower Sorbian. as follows: 2 ' 1 
Daloko pod zajtra znaju ja kraj tak krasny kaz Eden, 
Zbozne pobspiwany wot nebjaskich spiwarjow wsednje, 
Na kotrychz kjarlize wotgronje zuki wjeleserake, 
Tarn se po swetem nalogu cesne a hujspurne zowki 
Waze na slobranych zwalkach maeandriskich reckovv. 
Dere, ja znaju ten kraj wsak maly, glich wutroby zwerne 
Dybju stawnje we njom we negluce ako we gluce, 
Dere, wsak znaju ten kraj, ja znaju te - domacne pola. 
This was accompanied by a German translation in verse. 
(II) Editorial Note concerning Kosyk's death, in the Lutherischer Herold 
for 23 January 1941, on p. 11, as follows: 1 ' 7 

Nachrichten aus dem Mittelwesten. Nachtraglich erfuhren wir, daB ein 
Wohltater unsrer Synode aus dem Leben geschieden ist. In Albion, im 
sudlichen Oklahoma, in den Ozarks hat er gewohnt, weit entfernt vom 
Territorium der Synode des Mittelwestens. So ist es geschehen, daB wir 
erst langere Zeit nach dem Tode dieses Wohltaters von seinem Abschei- 
den erfuhren. Wie gerne hatten wir ihm die letzten Ehren erwiesen. 
Pastor M. Kossick war der letzte der Griinder unsrer Synode. Seit vielen 
Jahren, und den meisten der Glieder unserer Synode unbekannt, lebte 
er-in der Stille der Ozarkberge. Aber er hatte ein warmes Herz fur seine 
Synode, die er hat grunden helfen. Einen Teil seines Eigentums hatte er 
schon lange der Synode iibergeben. Noch im letzten Jahr hat er der 
Kirche uber $ 1240 fur wohltatige Zwecke ubergeben. Auch das Werk des 
Lutherischen Herolds lag ihm am Herzen. Es tut uns leid, daB dieser 
letzte der Vater unsrer Synode von uns gegangen ist. Moge Gott es ihm 
lohnen, was er an Wohltatigkeit getan hat. 
(Ill) Obituary dated 2 January 1941, in The Lutheran, XXII, 16, issue of 
15 Janua ry 1941, p. 30* From this we learn that Kosyk became a citizen of 

-" The poem was printed without diacritics, since these could not be provided bv 
the printer. / 

' The Lutherischer Herold was published in Philadelphia for the United Luthe- 
ran Church of America (U.L.C.A.) It succeeded Lutherischer Zions-Bote (see foot- 
note 43 below), after the latter and Deutscher Lutheraner (published by the Eastern 
Synods of the U.L.C.A.) were combined in 1922. 

H The Lutheran was the official organ for the English-speaking Lutherans of the 
Evangelical-Lutheran General Synod of the United States of North America just as 
Lutherischer Herold was for the German-speaking members of this Synod' 

Ma to Kosyk in America /i9 

the U.S.A. on 26 September 1894. The funeral service was conducted by the 
Rev. C. Goede, "an old friend of Mr. Kossick", assisted by his son, the Rev. 
William Goede. This obituary also refers to Kosyk's benefactions: "His gifts 
ran into the thousands of dollars not only for the work in the Midwest Synod 
but also for work outside the Synod and in foreign lands". A manuscript draft 
of this obituary (by Pastor E. C. Hansen)-" states: "In November 1890 he was 
married to Anna (nee) Wehr, to which union one son was born, who preceded 
him in death, 1915. In 1929 his faithful wife was called away in death". The 
published version does not mention her death, nor gives the son's year of 

(IV) Obituary in Lutherischer Herold, XIX, issue of 9 January 1941, pp. 
9-10. 30 The contents are closely similar to those of the obituary in The Luthe- 
ran, arid the author is the same. The following sentences are interesting, 
however, and are not given in the English version of the obituary: "Pastor 
Kossick war einer der stillen, ruhigen Seelen im Lande, nicht nur reich geseg- 
net von der Gnade Gottes, s-rndern auch reich gesegnet mit irdischen Gutern. 
Er hat in den letzten Jahren seines Lebens fast sein ganzes irdisches Ver- 
mogen der Kirche des Herrn gegeben und viele Arme mit seinen Gaben reich 

(V) Story of the Midwest Synod U.L.C.A., 1890-1950, n. d. or p. : " This 
contains a number of references to Kosyk. There is mention of his role in 
setting up the German Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Nebraska in 1890, with 
the statements (p. 30) : "From Princeton he drove his horse and buggy to 
attend the organisation of the German Nebraska Synod on July 24. He stayed 
only one day", and (p. 2): "A committee, consisting of the pastors Wm. Thoele, 

29 The draft obituaries are located in the Archives of the Nebraska Synod, Luthe- 
ran Church of America, in Omaha, Nebraska. Both draft obituaries and the Ger- 
man published version give Stanford as one of the parishes served by Kosyk, but 
the English published version gives the correct name, Stamford. We are much in- 
debted to Rev. F. H. Farstrup for his help in locating and providing us with copies 
of these and other documents in his care. 

30 See footnote 27 above. 

31 After World War I, more and more English came to be used in the parishes of 
the German Nebraska Synod; from 1935, the Minutes of the Synodical Meetings 
were published in English, with mimeographed German Minutes also available. 
Also, the Synod came to have many parishes which lay outside the State of 
Nebraska. Finally, in 1937, it was agreed that the name of the Synod should be 
changed to "The Evangelical Lutheran Synod in the Midwest", generally being 
referred to as the "Midwest Synod". In 1954, the Synod merged with the Synods 
of Kansas and Nebraska to form "The Synod of the Central States". In 1962, this 
latter Synod became a district of the Lutheran Church of America (L.C.A.), as a 
result of a larger merger involving the United Lutheran Church of America 
(U.L.C.A.), of which the Midwest Synod had been. a district since its formation in 
1918 by a merger involving the General Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church 
in the United States (of which the German Nebraska Synod had been a district since 
the formation of the latter in 1890). 

f \ Lfetopis A 24/1 


R. Dalitz- G.Stone 

Matthias Kossick and a Mr. Westphal, a lay delegate ... was appointed to 
present recommendations concerning a synodical constitution" Thfs book alo 

s^sss? of the poet cp ' so) " 2 and the foiiowing fit - 

Fofhinf p SiCk W3S ° ng ° f the fSW l6ft ° f a Vanishin S lace . *e "Wends". 
Foi him German was an acquired language. In his youth he wrote four 

h STnce POetl " • '", tHe WendiSh langUage ' B * ™™& ZSVZ 
hentance he acquired comparative wealth, most of which he lost to 

dishonest natives in Albion, Oklahoma. They borrowed money from him 

fCltT- lan t dh ttT S SeCUrUy at tWlCe their true valuation Th"n 
hey left him o hold the land instead of paying him back. Thus he 

acquired several thousand acres of nearly worthless land. As heavy taxes 

Soli %££° r ney reSerVSS ^ ^ a large P-tionte the 
Lu I!! r a « Annuity basis. He also gave 200 acres to the Martin 

Synod in mo InStltUtl ° n 3t LinC ° ln "* »* last h ° ldi ^ ^ gave to 
uTulTwZ °u K °? "2 land is dealt withUin greater detail tat« (PP- 

1 1 6-1 1 5) . We shall quote the main passages verbatim : 

Pastor M. Kossick, one of the founders of Synod, when he retired from 
active ministry in Enid,- Oklahoma, moved to Albion, Oklahoma, wher! 

mataha cTnT T **7 "* timberlands - A1 ^on is located in Push- 
mataha County m the southeastern corner of Oklahoma, where the Ozarks 
push mto the state. The mountains in that part of the country are called 

SfJST"^ m ° Untains - The countrv was ^d still is primitive and 

relatively undeveloped and the hinterlands in the mountains was and still 

u the home of Indians, half-breeds and the hide-out of outlaws The best 

. that could be said for the country was that the climate was very healthy 

' that I T p S rV "?^ And th6Se W6re the tW0 Chief considerations 
that caused Pastor Kossick, his wife and son to move there 

When the people of Albion discovered that Pastor Kossick and his wife 

were people of means and willing to loan money to those in need, many 

_people borrowed large sums of money, giving as collateral mortgages on 

Mate™ o iVk 6 wltT" 1 • POl " tr ^ t rt P™ duce d ^ several publications, including 

* This does not mean the Roman Catholic Church. The land (510 acres en th* 

(the county seat for Pushmataha County) demonstrate. Cf Sec. 5 below 

Kosvk ™i-» a dis "' epanc} ' here - In his Autobiographical Record (Sec' 2(V) above) 

Ge man N; b ,-^- a r 1 eren H C V ^ Th6 AnnUal MnUtes of the Conference of the 
Tin Z n; Neblas \ a Synod < see ltem - <VI) of this section) show that El Reno and 
Union City were the only two Oklahoma parishes which Kosyk served as pastor 

Ma to Kosyk in America 51 

their lands. These were often represented, sometimes even with the 
connivance of county officials, as being of double and triple the value 
they actually were. Then when the loans came due, they simply let Pastor 
Kossick take possession of the land instead. Thus he acquired several 
thousand acres of land, until he became land poor. On top of that the 
county began to levy heavier and heavier taxes against him Therefore 
in July, 1930, he donated 510 acres of land to the Synod, with the proviso' 
that he or his heirs should retain 1/16 of the mineral (oil) rights and that 
Synod should pay him an annuity of $ 100 a year . . . Shortly before that 
Pastor Kossick had sold to the Trustees of Martin Luther Seminary a 
tract of 380 acres of land, that is the land on which his home stood for 
a nominal sum,- with the understanding that the Seminary pay all taxes 
and make all repairs and pay him an annuity of $ 200 a year for the 
rest of his life ... 

When Pastor Kossick gave the land he gave it in good faith and in the 
belief that he was giving a worthwhile gift. Altho he may have had some 
exaggerated ideas of the value of his land at that time, and we must 
remember that he was over 80 years old 30 then, he also had some justi- 
fication for thinking that it was a valuable donation ... By 1935 the Board 
of Trustees of Martin Luther Seminary reported that their property in 
Oklahoma had been a financial burden and a never ending worry That 
the $ 200 annuity to Pastor Kossick had not been paid for the last few 
years and that the land had not produced enough to pay for the taxe| 
A like judgment only to a lesser degree, held true for the synodical 

Synod appointed a committee consisting of Pastor M. Schroeder and 
Messrs. Ed. Schneider from Lipscombe, Texas, and John Havekost from 
Hooper, Nebraska, to make investigation in person. In the course of thai- 
year they made a trip to the land. They reached an agreement with 
Pastor Kossick, by which, upon the payment of $ 125, all annuity pay- 
ments from synod and seminary would be cancelled, for the past and the 

(VI) The Minutes of the Annual Conventions of the German Wartburg 
Synod, the Nebraska Synod, the German Nebraska Synod and the Midwest 
Synod. It was the custom of each Synod of the Lutheran evangelical churches 
in America to hold an annual convention, at which a detailed accounting of 
the work of the Synod during the year just past was presented to its pastors 
and discussed. Reports were given by many committees, concerning for ex- 
ample the admission of pastors from Seminaries or' from other Synods, the 
resignations of pastors, the calls accepted by pastors to parishes where the 
pastorshi p had become vacant, and the condition of each parish at the time 

35 The sum was $1. 

x He was actually 77 then. 


R. Dajitz- G.Stone 

of the convention, as well as many other matters. These reports together with 
die presidential address and other such items, were then pub ished as the 
Minutes of the Annual Convention and sent to each pastor of the Synod Tooth 

™nt m r e" ? eVem th3t hS "^ bee " UnaWe t0 attend ^ »dftj£ 
a permanent record concerning the state and development of the Synod The 

Minutes of interest in the present connection are those of the G^rnan WarT 

onwaras < Th^M ^ * ^ Germa " NebraSka Synod for the *»« 1893 
dates and nice ^—Provide us with authoritative statements about the 
dates and places of Kosyk s appointments, and about his other church activi- 

SoSrSLS Peri ° d ° f rr^ They alS ° indude an attendance re ord; 
N brast Svnod W and 01 ;, f °" *! the f ° Undati ° n meetin ^or the German 
The last of th" d ' , t theretor \ we11 known later throughout the Synod as 
the last of the foundation members, he did not regularly attend the annual 

appointed to investigate the land donated by Kosyk to the German Neb aska 
Synod made their report- at the 47th Convention of the Synod he da" 
St Johns Church, Westboro, Missouri, on 1-5 July 1936. Although the 

sedtv S r P i ea 'T t0 * ° f 1UUe a «"-'t-al value, the committee was imp is 
sed by the climate and scenery. They reported : 

fheTf J" 8 PU f mataha Co " we P a ^d through the western slope of 
the Ozark mountains, which parts are set apart as a National Park In 

SvnodTTV, ~ land ' 3b0Ut t6n mUeS fr ° m the actual '-eta of 
Synod the United States Government maintains a T.B. Hospital for 

' b f^T> T mUe , Cl ° Ser ' ^ t0 thS t0Wn ° f TalihiM < rcete Tallhin *> 
is the State s hospital for T.B. patients. The climate is of the healthies 

_-ywhere to be found. Pastor Kossick in spite of his 83 years outwalked 
AbdJ h Rn?c e w an , % a ^l ^"Od Minutes for the relevant years are held in the 

'■""•» 'I "" 0"n*m> synod, Bu,n„,»„ ,i„„ !£» h " k 

*> This report is given in full on pp. 42-46 of the Minutes of this Convention. 

Mato Kosyk in America 53 

any of us younger men in climbing the stony mountains.- He seems to 
personify eternal youth/' ' 

The land where Kosyk's farm and house were situated were particularly 
poor (according to the committee) : 

The examination of the 380 acres . . . showed that it consists entirely of 
rough land, stony, gravel, sand and rocks, with really no tillable land in 
evidence, a recent flood having swept away the last particle of loam, if 
such has been there ... It is not clear to us how any occupant of the 
so-called farm property can make a living from the soil as we saw it. The 
only possibility lies with grazing . . / 2 

(VII) Lutherischer Zions-Bote/' 3 Besides general articles of Church interest, 
this twice-monthly newspaper included reports on parish activities, although 
not in a systematic way. In the early years, there were rather few of these 
reports, but by the early 1900s they had become a substantial part of the 
. paper. It was customary for most parishes to hold a missionary festival after 
the harvest was in, and many pastors regularly wrote an account of their parish 
missionary festival for publication in the Zions-Bote; others, such as Kosyk, 
never did so. However, Kosyk's name does appear in many of these reports 
as one of the guest pastors. We quote one example of some interest/'' 1 publi- 
shed in 1899: 

Am 3. September (1899) feierte die Gemeinde von Pastor Kurt Muller in 
Sutton, Neb., ihr Missionsfest. Der Morgengottesdienst wurde von Pastor 
Kossick aus Stamford geleitet ... Nachmittags besorgte Pastor Fricke 
(aus Ohiowa) den liturgischen Teil, und die Pastoren Kossick und Schulfc 
aus Bluehill predigten . . . 

At this date, Kosyk was pastor of the St. John's parish at Ohiowa, having 
moved there from Stamford at the end of the preceding April. The parish of 
Sutton is about 25 miles north-west from Ohiowa and was founded by Volga- 
German immigrants/ 3 As Kosyk was a newcomer to the district, it was natural 
that he should be invited as a guest preacher at the next missionary festival 
at Sutton, and it was of much interest for him to meet fellow Lutherans who 

r ' 1 Ibid., p. 42 

-"'- Ibid., p. 44 

<a Lutherischer Zions-Bote was published twice monthly in Chicago "fur die 
Deutschen der General-Synode der Evangelisch-Lutherischen Kirche von Nord- 
Amerika", from 1896 until 1922. A complete set for the years of interest here 
(1896-1910) is held at the Abdel Ross Wentz Library of the Lutheran Theological 
Seminary at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. 

« Lutherischer Zions-Bote, vol. 4, 1899, p. 141. This item was submitted for 
publication by Pastor M. F. Schulz of the St. Paul's parish at Blue Hill (16 miles 
south of Hastings). The description "aus Stamford" for Kosyk can refer only to his 
recent arrival in this district from Stamford (about 100 miles west of Sutton). There 
were two parishes at Ohiowa; Kosyk's parish was north-east from Ohiowa, whereas 
the parish of Pastor H. W. Fricke was to the south-west of Ohiowa. 

54 R. Dalitz- G.Stone 

also spoke a Slavonic tongue, as is recorded in a letter he wrote later that 


(VIII) Local Newspapers. During the years 1913-18 at least/*' a weekly 
newspaper named the Albion Advocate was composed and printed at Albion. 
Besides national and foreign news, it reported meetings and decisions from 
the state and county capitals and gave a wide variety of brief .items of local 
news and gossip. To give an example of the latter, from the issue of 4 June 


George Kosick (sic) and Ben Dupree attended the singing at Peare Grove 

Much can be learned from the Albion Advocate concerning the Albion 

people and the style and tempo of their lives, before and during World War I. 
The items of most importance for us are printed in the issue of the Albion 

Advocate dated Friday, 27 August 1915, as follows: 

George Kossick Meet (sic) Sudden Death by Drowning. 
The people of Albion were sadly shocked Monday when news came of 
the drowning of George Kossick, who, while crossing Kiamichi river at 
the ford known as the Thompson ford in company with Ben Dupree, Bill 
Fikes (sic) and Wilson Odom, seems to have lost his balance while stoop- 
ing over apparently to fix his saddle. He fell from his horse and sank 
into the water and as he came up, his companions caught him and carried 
him to the bank. 

A call was immediately sent to Dr. Wright who came and done all he 
could to resuscitate him. Never regaining consciousness he died Monday 
. evening at the home of George Files (sic) where he had been taken. He left 
■ ' home that morning to look at his crop across the river and was crossing 
when the accident occurred. It will never be known what produced his 
immediate death for he was rescued coming up the first time after sinking 
in to the water. He had just gotten up from a sick bed and it is thought 
this had a great deal to do with his death. He was young in manhood and 
indeed a likely fellow. He was born at Prinecton (sic), Neb., in 1891 and 
moved here with his parents three years ago. He is the only child of Mr. 
and Mrs. Kossick, who came from Germany to make a home in this 

« The Volga-German settlers at Sutton are mentioned in Nebraska, A Guide to 
the Cornhusker State, by Works Progress Administration - Federal Writers Project, 
New York, 1939. Reference to the Volga-German founders of the Zion parish at 
Sutton will also be found in Story of the Midwest Synod, p. 371. 

« An extract to this effect from a letter written by Kosyk was published by 
Frido Metsk in Chrestomatija dolnoserbskego pismowstwa, II, Berlin, 1957, p. 143. 
The name of the parish is mis-spelled Satton in this extract. 

v It is not known precisely when the Albion Advocate began and ended publica- 
tion. The only copies known to have survived are held in the Newspaper Room 
of the Oklahoma State Historical Museum, in Oklahoma City. These copies run from 
3 July 1913 to 16 October 1913 and from 20 November 1914 to 26 July 1918. 

Mato Kosyk in America 

country. They bot (sic) land here and settled among a people who have 
learned to esteem and respect them. 

The remains of George Kossick laid (sic) to rest Tuesday evening at the ir 
home place with funeral sen-ices conducted before a tag crowd by Re* . 

ThUd^ma^'tragedy is still remembered vividly in the Albion district* 
will be discussed again briefly in Sec. 5, from the recollections of the older 
people at Albion. On the same page of the Atbion Advocate, we read also a 
KHpf statement bv Mato Kosyk and his wife, as follows : 

T falHhe ktod people of Albion and to all the friends of our dear George, 
who departed this Hf e so suddenly, and especially to all good neighbours 
2 to those, wh o have done the hard work at the digging of the grave on 
our place a cording to the special wishes of Mrs. Kossick - we, the 
dieted parents, utter hereby our sincere thanks for all condolence and 

help at the funeral. M. Kossick . 

Mrs. A. Kossick 

The Albion Advocate ceased publication before the end of World War I. 
Afli that time, the local Albion news was published in the TaU^na Arnen^ 
fweekly newspaper produced from 1918 in the neighbouring town of 
LTefbre County.'^ Unfortunately, no copies of the Talihina Amenoan have 

survived with date before 1947. nw<wn" fsici 

(IX) Deutsche* Geschlechterbueh.*' The name "Kossick o Ohiova (sic) 
appears in Wasmansdorff •. index- to this series of volumes. The correspondp 
ing entry" occurs under the name Wehr and reads as follows: 

11. Anna I * 28/6/1849, verm. -/10/1B90 mit Georg Kossik 18/6/1851, Pre 
diaer zu Ohiova (?) in Nord-Amerika. 
Thus accorfing to the complete entry for the Wehr family, Anna Wehr was 
thfekventh chUd of Alexander Hermann Ludwig Wehr, a landowner and 
memter of the nobility, described as "Rittergutsbesitzer auf Duszno bei Tre- 
m^en Ritter des Roten Adler-Ordens 4. Kl." Her father was born at Glogo- 
w'ec (Kr MogUno) in 1806, the son of Johann Wehr ("ErbpachUbesiteer au 
riosowtecT and died in 1869, presumably at Duszno. The entry also states 
ttiafhlr mothefwas Emilie (born Dahlstr5m") from Friedland (Kr. Schlochau, 

* Tfte TMMna American is still published today, f n f, i f^ s ^™cWerb U ch), 

samtnamenverzeichnis umfassend Bd. 1-50, Gorlitz, 1928 
Z^T^^tr^^^Sl^^t W g bat evidence exists (BOB, 


R. Dalitz - G. Stone 

SKEWS' £nT W o SeC r d , Wlfe ° f LUdWlg W * r ' died - ** No- 
Duszno for Ltnglurnev to PH T^T ^ ^ after Anna "«« 

These family ££££2 the We** ; *"*' '° "^ Mat ° Kos ^ 

Wehr family, so that he informl! ^.^ Presumably provided by the 
reasonably b regarded as reu2TZl% * '°, ^ * Ge ™ a ^ ™* 

that Anna Wehr was not « ^ ' ^^ "' *" SVidenCe "^ates 

« years old at IJ ^Lt'aiT Ko^P """^ """^ bUt 
that the information in this entrv K . ^ " However . we must note 

to him, is almost lincor^ct in detair 1 ,? 8 °". Mat0 K ° Syk Md her marria S a 
tary evidence cited in Sec 2 aboV e ' "^ With the d °— en- ' 

In a later volume™, for the vmi* iqoq tk„ txr , 
Wehr's father is there described a^'Rtterlnt h^' ***** * Updated Anna 
messen", but a footnote ta te LtH ^T ' H ° Chbe '' g ^^ 
as Duszno. The entry for Anna w ' " PlaCe P reviousI y known 

the incorrect information otvt.I * ^ mar '" iage date and ^peats 

(1929) describing htaas"PredTr y fiT C ° nCemin S her husband, but now 
is also not sSy ^J^^Zl ^ ° klah ° ma ' PuBmatVa 10 ". which 

was born at ^S^L^t S^tiE&T"' 

a merchant there Thin tmh*m» «i. * *"©nter 01 Lrottneb Dahlstrom, 

used the pref lx "von'for 3e SX^t *°'* g *"* ** had n0t 

^swsi'E: ss,?w*: famil c " wehr aus Hein - 

Tremessen and that she died ^ It Anna , Wehr was born at Duszno bei 
with Kosyk-s statement in a letter' which? t T^ T ° f death agrees 
dated 19 February 1929 No death - t ? , l ° R SwJ6 ' a from Albi ™> 

by the civil author S of t he State^Lh^ *?"? ^ * ,0Und 
deatr^must be properly reported to th em' *** ^ ^ that a " 

e^Parfof KRZSSf" "* Dah,Stl ' bro fami * — *- Sweden in the 
uJ DGB, vol. 62, 1929. p 478-9 

kn S W D f 'r ^American documents ^scl-mea ££T" °°- ° k,ah0ma "' as we 

5ii wl , J rS i . ' Wtiberfc * J°^o spisoio, pp. 131-3 

Here and elsewhere in this article we use the KnJL. #« 
the names of all persons and places in America with thf f ^ appropriate *>r 

/imenca, with the exception of Mato Kosyk. 

Mato Kosyk in America 57 

The above evidence makes it clear that Anna Kossick came from a German 
family, contrary to assumptions which have been made on occasion, based on 
an extract from one of Kosyk's letters, written in 1928 and published in 1957. 
The extract is as follows : m 

Cytach raz w Casniku, az moja zona bywa Serbowka. To jo molenje. 
Wona jo z knSskich dobytkow z Polskeje. Po smjersi starjejsych su zesi 
te wjelike dobytki pseporali a psejgrali. Moja zeriska njejo Slowjanam do- 
bra. Psecej lutosciwje se wusmewkujo, gaz serbski pisu. Nejglucnjejse 
manzelstwo njejo. 

In a recent article Jerzy Sliziriski describes this passage as "especially in- 
teresting for Poles" and suggests: "Perhaps it was under the influence of this 
unfortunate union that Kosyk's formerly cordial feelings towards Poland and 
the Poles became cold." 01 But we know now that Anna Kosyk came from a 
German family owning a manorial estate close to the eastern border of Posen 
Province. However strained the relation between her and Kosyk, the fact that 
her family held lands in Poland can scarcely have had any influence on Ko- 
syk's feelings towards the Poles. On the other hand, her own attitude towards 
the Slavs was rather common among German land-owning families in Poland. 

4. The Church Career of Mato Kosyk 

When Mato Kosyk arrived in America in 1883 and sought to become a stu- 
dent of theology, he first joined the Practical Concordia Theological Seminary 
at Springfield, Illinois, 62 which was connected with the Missouri Synod of the 
Lutheran Church. The evidence for this is provided by letters in his own hand, 
one reproduced in the Appendix here, and three others already published. 63 

153 See Mato Kosyk : Wuberk z jogo spisow, pp. 116—123 
The Missouri Synod stemmed from the "Altlutheraner" who emigrated from 
Germany rather early. It has always been the most orthodox and most conser- 
vative of the Lutheran bodies in America and its atmosphere and teaching 
were not to Kosyk's taste. It would appear that, having learned that there 
were other German-speaking Lutherans in America who belonged to the Ge- 
neral Synod, which was the most liberal, the most evangelical and the most 
open of the Lutheran Synods, and that there was a Seminary of the General 
Synod not far away, at Chicago in the same State, he transferred to study 
there, as soon as this was possible, in January 1884. Vl 

m Chrestomatija dolnoserbskego pismowstwa, II, p. 144 

ul S 1 i z i n s k i , op. cit., p. 228. In the original, this passage is "Moze, ze wlasnie 
pod wplywem tego nieudanego zwia.zku ochlodly serdeczne pocza.tkowo uczucia 
Kosyka do Polski i do Polakow". 

c: ? Founded 1873. The name M. Kossick cannot be found in the Seminary's records. 
Our thanks are due to Mrs. B. W. Steege, Director of the Library there, who carried 
out the search. 

m Ibid., p. 120 


R. Dalitz - G. Stone 

1. Map of the Midwest States where Kosyk first studied and then worked as pastor. 
For each appointment held by\Kosyk, we outline the County, the dot enclosed 
within it showing the location of his parish in this County. The large dots give 
the locations of large towns or cities, for the purpose of orientation. 

The German Theological Seminary of the General Synod was founded at 
Chicago in 1881 and its first head was the Rev. Prof. E. F. Giese. In 1884, 
when Kosyk came there as a student, this Seminary was still rather small, and 
barely surviving; indeed, during the year 1883-4 the number of students at 
any one time ranged between 5 and 8 and Giese was both Head of the Semi- 
nary and its only instructor. When Kosyk first arrived, the Seminary students 
all lived in the lower rooms of a German and English day school at 534 
(now numbered 1431) Nor th Wells St ., North Chicago , and had to walk to the 
Professor's house at 393 (numbered 2444/6 today) Lincoln Avenue for their 

Mato Kosyk in America » 59 

classes. At the end of February 1884, they all moved to a building at Chic ago _ 
Lawn , which was then a small but growing community within the township 
of Lake and situated about 8 miles south-west from central Chicago. Chicago 
Lawn was first laid out in 1876, connected with Chicago by the Chicago and 
Grant Trunk Railway Company (later the Grand Trunk Western) in 1880, 
and annexed to Chicago in 1889, although it was then still separated from the 
city of Chicago by much farmland. This building badly needed repairs for 
which no money was available/ 55 Kosyk probably aroused much ' interest at 
the Seminary through his Sorbian background, and this stimulated him to 
write the introductory account of his people for the German-speaking Luthe- 
rans in the American midwest region which Prof. Giese published in Der 
Lutherische Kirchenfreund (see Sec. 3(1) above). 

Kosyk's period of study at the Chicago Seminary seems to have been quite 
brief and intensive, and his early training at the Cottbus Gymnasium now 
proved its value. Also, his close association with Pastor Kruswica and his 
church activities at Wjerbno during the five years before his emigration gave 
him a strong background Jfor these studies. In any event, he had been at the 
Chicago Seminary no longer than fourteen months when he was called out 
to his first parish. At that time, there was a desperate need for German- 
speaking pastors in the parishes of the Wartburg and the Nebraska Synods so 
that, in the training of pastors, every effort was made and all corners cut 
to get suitable men out into the field as early as possible. 

In the president's report at the tenth Annual Convention of the German 
Wartburg Synod, ,i(J held 9-13 June 1885 at the Second Church of Mount Pu- 
laski, Illinois, we read : f 
Am 10. Marz wurde Student Matthaus Kossick fur die Gemeinde in Wells- 
burgh (sic), Grundy Co., la., bis zur Versammlung der Synode licenziert. 

In fact, as recorded above (cf. Sec. 2(V)), he took up his first appointment, 

05 All of this is recounted in some detail in Giese's report to the 9th Annual 
Convention of the Wartburg Synod in June 1884, printed in the Minutes of this 
Convention, pp. 14-16. The address of his house is given in the index of pastors 
included in Der Lutherische Kalendar for 1883 and 1884, published at Allentown, 

w Minutes of the Tenth Annual Convention of the German Wartburg Synod, p. iv. 
The German Wartburg Synod was founded in 1876, and grew out of the German 
Conference of the Central Illinois Synod, which had been established in 1873. The 
separation of the Lutheran Synods into an English Conference, which consisted of 
well-established parishes where the younger people had attended English-language 
schools and used English as their normal language outside their homes, and a Ger- 
man Conference, which consisted of parishes where there was a particularly large 
fraction of German speakers or where there were still fresh immigrants from Ger- 
many in the process of settling, is characteristic of this period. Much later, as the 
immigration into the relevant region slowed and the German speakers grew old, 
the German-speaking Synod would lose, strength, and finally become absorbed into 
the growing English-language Synod. 


R. Dalitz - G. Stone 

as pastor to the parish of Wellsburg, on 1 March 1 RR^ h 

mto the German WartburglTy-rf S. Con^S He W3S als ° 0rdained 

the Lutherans in the Wellsburg parish w m m«i-ii • 
Friesland, and their language mn-Th y lmmi S rants *rom East 

communication between PaX W „ ?w, **" t0 S ° me dif »es of 
P,rt at least, the reason SP £S relneV^' ^ T '"" ^ ta 
Wartburg Synod after one year Anntb , Pastorship and left the 

desire to journey back to the wi m r6aS ° n f0r his resi ^tion was his 
brother Kito, whVhfd ££ J^T^T^Tl^^ ** WS 
had recently died (of typhus, o I June S Tn ? land at Wjerbn0 ' 

his pastorship at Wellsbu'rg on 29 August 886- andTet XSfT ^^ 
across the Atlantic, back to hffKcSri&S- ^ *"■* 

After Kosyk's return to America earlv in 1RR7 i,. 
Synod"' and accepted a call from the S t ' app ,_ roached the Nebraska 
Dodge County of Nebraska andTho^ f J * ^^ °* *^&' in ^ 
He took up this pastorshin !, !&* ""^ south " wes t *»lnScribner. 

for «mJSX^~££?- altF T gh his fo ™ al -PPlication 
was added to the rot K^S S T^T? "^ =" M ™ 
became a member of its German Conference The S ""l" 11 ^ ^ 

^centred on £ ^T^ n 7Z%^^^ 

" Ibid. These Minutes also record (in P™f <"•«— i 
tion of Prof. Giese, the closure of he Chkaao tSJTS °" P VH) the resigna " 
and the dispersal of its students The Rev f u?f al Seminary on 7 May 1885, 
nary property, until the Rev £■ 7 SeVerinehl He " mann took «« of the Semi- 
a new site at the corner of West AueSS sf n 73"?? ^ Seminar y. with 
central Chicago. This Seminary tec^me ouS f , $ ?f " d AVenUe ' quite cIose t0 
almost blotting out memory of the Tarh f(S <= '" later ^ ite success 
been a student. It is quite often said tha L^ g Seminary where Kosyk had 
on p. 30 of the Story of the Midwest Svn^if T?^",' '' Severin Shaus man", (e. g. 
months before Severinghauf ooTchar^ of Z %?* *"%}** Chkag ° at ,east *« 

08 Kosyk's resignation from the Sv„^°^ „ Cag ° The °l°gi<»l Seminary. 
Con ve „ tion of the WaXrg Synod Zd^en'mf 6 M r teS ° f the 12th A " nual 

88 The evidence concerning this vWttnvr, <I1 ! mois > on "-19 June 1887. 
discussed by G. Hancka opcit Note L °nT v""!" *"? ^ bt ° Ught &rward a »° 
address list for pastors ntoli^SiS^ name M ' Kos *<* «n the 
"derzeit in Deutschland" Cfte Kalendor (Allentown, Penna.) for 1887: 

^^n^Sw^hSa?^^ 8 7i f0U " ded at 0ma * a > Ne- 
this Synod. th Germa n-speaking and English-speaking pastors in 

temb^Toctob* m?T£Z£?? s ° f the d r raSka Synod ' held 27 SeP- 
admission is on p. 7, and his acceptan" of the ca ifromRi^', ? ^T™ ** 

'- In 1891, two years after Kn 5 vir.c * ? , R'dgeley is on p. 8. 

was organized as f separate paS wlth^ 1 ' 6 ' th 'i Pleasant Va '^ congregation 
See Story of the Mid J st Sync tpM ^ ^^^ St Ma "heWs). 

Mato Kosyk in America 


He resigned his pastorship at Ridgeley on 1 Ju ne 1889, taking up on this date 
a call he had accepted from the Stockfeld parish of the St. Paul's church at 
P rinceton /"' a small town within a substantial farming community and in the 
Centerville precinct of Lancaster County, about 15 miles due south from 
Lincoln, the capital city of Nebraska. This was an "independent" parish, not 
allied with any particular Synod, and Kosyk was its first pastor from the 
Nebraska Synod. 7 ' 1 In the Nebraska Synod Minutes for 1893, Kosyk reported 
that the Princeton parish had 70 communicant members, a rather larger con- 
gregation than he had had at Ridgeley. 

During the late 1880s, the German Conference of the Nebraska Synod came 
to feel more and more that they were a disregarded minority in the Synod, 
and there was much dissatisfaction among its German-speaking elements. 
Much discussion of their situation and needs took place at the meetings of the 
German Conference in April 1888 and September 1889. After the 1888 meet- 
ing, their demands were put to the Nebraska Synod, which rejected them as 
unconstitutional at their Annual Convention in September 1888. Finally, Pa- 
stor J. Wolff made the consecration ceremonies for the new church of his 
St. John's congregation at Sterling, Nebraska, on 26 July 1890 an opportunity 
for discussion and action on the part of the German Conference. 7 ' He invited 
all the members of the German Conference to meet at Sterling on 24 July 
1890. Only five pastors, three theological students and three active Lutheran 
laymen were able to attend this meeting, and one of these was Mato Kosyk, 
whose parish was only 20 miles to the north-west of Sterling. Their discussions 
led them to decide on a definite break from the Evangelical-Lutheran Synod 
of Nebraska, to form a new German-speaking Synod to be connected with the 
General Synod of the Evangelical-Lutheran Church of North America, whose 
name would be the German Evangelical-Lutheran Synod of Nebraska. Kosyk 
and two others were appointed as a committee to draw up a provisional syno- 

73 In the letter given here in the Appendix, Kosyk implies that he was the 
immediate successor of Pastor Stockfeld, who was the founder of this parish, 
according to its Kirchenbuch (cf. Sec. 2(111) and footnote 15). However, the Kirchen- 
buch of the Stockfeld parish lists its successive pastors as G. E. Kraemer (1881), 
C.Dornerburg U884-7), T. M. Frankenfeld (1888), M. Kossick (1889-1895), . . . 

''* The four pastors preceding Kosyk do not appear in the list of Nebraska Synod 
pastors given in the Story of the Midwest Synod, on pp. 162-7. This parish is in- 
cluded in the roster of congregations given in this book (p. 188), but is described as 
"independent", not affiliated to the German Nebraska Synod at any time. Never- 
theless, according to its Kirchenbuch, all of the pastors who succeeded Kosyk in this 
parish were of the German Nebraska Synod, until the parish was disbanded in 1932. 
The Story of the Midwest Synod states on p. 188 that the Princeton parish was 
established in 1881 by Rev. J. F. Kuhlmann, and disbanded in 1936; both of these 
statements are contradicted by its Kirchenbuch. 

75 Story of Midwest Synod, pp. 1-5. See also Chr. Sick, 'Aus Sterling, Nebraska', 
Lutherischer Zions-Bote, 1908, p. 237. The demands made arose from much deeper 
causes, which were responsible for the division between the German-speaking and 
English-speaking pastors. See Story of the Midwest Synod, pp. 37-41 

frl R. Daliti-G, Stone 

Thus ,t was tha t Mato Kosyk became one of the founding fathers of the 

S>iH4F ! *• "ss sets irrsSS 

5M m ; a P parent1 ^ s P* nt the «■' of hU day v.siting and speak nfi 
wth the many Lower Serbian families in Sterling** He then had n TtortkJt 

note V u" T ni2atl ° nal detaUs neCesSa ^ ** *« new W ^L retrned 
tnTd'ay'* ^ "° d ° Ubt fU ' ed Wkh S ° rbian th °^ 6* *. encoumerTof 

NctaSn'od £tt?t tf*! sub ^"-"y in the affairs of the German 

the Ann J St L "T" 8 ° f the " eW Sytlod ' he was ab ^ <*» 

we Annual Convention more often than not and he was not involved i*. 

f the u s?o e ir m,tta : aclivlties - In is95 ' he d ™ » *?«K. ™d p 

tember of th; V e^'H * u" ** ^'^ h ° U5e at PdnCeton °" 3 ° ^P 

temoei of that year. However, this was not long after the Panic of 1R09 *i m ~ 

w«e still diffiouit. and the 1MS harvest hfd MtaJSKE 
had Is te pastor could not seek a replacement, through lack f the wle e- 
w thai to suppor him. No cali came for Kosyk. and he sett.ed for a ZZ w th 

m StaT 'V\ a h0USe at 2°?S- * «"« ^wn in Lancaster County, ab out , 
mtonorth of Prmceton. Without income, he was forced to borrow money to 

* W«SSVSS HW**' C ° n£elence Were « '«*>* *•* Sec M, 

ftS^H^^s: sasrrs 

ms 19.4 letter r^fp?' ** l * 189 ° ? ** fhe **»* ■» against this. 

.. Ma to Kosyk in America * (>3 

get through this period. 7 " Fortunately, a call came in the Spring, from the 
small parish of the Trinity church at Stamford (Nebraska), in Harlan County, 
sited on Beaver Creek and about 25 miles south-south-west from the major 
town of Holdrege, and Kosyk took up this pastorship on 4 July 1896. In 1898 
he reported 45 communicant members for the Stamford parish, according to 
the German Nebraska Synod Minutes for that year. Kosyk was not long in 
this parish. In January 1899, the pastor of St. John's parish, at QhiosKa (in 
Fillmore County, Nebraska, and about 12 miles south-west from its capital, 
Geneva) resigned, and a call was sent to Kosyk, who accepted it and settled 
in at Ohiowa at the end of April of that year. 80 

There are many more records of Kosyk's activities during his years at 
Ohiowa. He was present at most of the Annual Conventions of the Synod 
through this period, at Westboro (Missouri) on 24-28 September 1901, at 
Greenleaf (Kansas) on 10-14 September 1902, at Hanover (Kansas) on 
2-6 September 1903, at Yutan (Nebraska) on 13-17 September 1905, at Wis- 
ner (Nebraska) on. 19— 23 September 1906, and at Bloomfield (Nebraska) on 
18-22 September 1907. In 1901, Kosyk reported 70 communicant members for 
the St. John's parish; this number increased over the years to 85, according to 
his report for 1906. Through these years, 1899 to 1907, the name Kossick ap- 
pears quite frequently in the missionary festival reports published in the 
Lutherischer Zions-Bote, but he was never the author of such a report, as 
far as we can tell. 

On 8 December 1907, Kosyk received a call from the parish of the Church 
of Our Redeemer, in the town of El Reno , the capital of Canadian County, 
Oklahoma, and sited on the North Canadian River. 81 This was frontier country, 
both for the German Nebraska Synod and for white settlement in America. 
El Reno was originally Fort Reno, situated in the "Unassigned Lands" of the 
Oklahoma Territory. 82 These lands were first opened for white settlement in 

7,} The evidence for this is given in a letter written to his mother from Roca on 
26 March 1896, not long after learning of his father's death on 17 January of that 
year. The original letter is held in the Sorbian Cultural Archives at Bautzen. 

80 The Minutes of the 1899 Annual Convention of the German Nebraska Synod, 
held 2—24 September at Hooper (Nebraska), referring to the election of Pastor 
F. Schwarz's successor, record as follows: "Die Gemeinde daselbst erwahlte P. M. 
Kossick von Stamford als seinen Nachfolger, welcher Ende April dorthin uber- 
siedelte". There were two parishes of the German Nebraska Synod at Ohiowa, both 
churches having the name St. John's. Kosyk's church was in the 'town parish', the 
church being in the country, several miles north-east of Ohiowa. The other church 
was in the 'country parish' and stood about 4.5 miles south-west of Ohiowa. 

81 The Minutes of the 1908 Annual Convention of the German Nebraska Synod, 
held 9—13 September at Grenville (Nebraska), record as follows: "Am 8. Dez. erhielt 
Pastor Kossick einen Beruf von der Gemeinde zu El Reno, Okla., dem er Anfang 
des neuen Jahres Folge leistete." 

82 The present Oklahoma state was formed by the U.S. Congress in 1906, by 
uniting the Oklahoma Territory and the Indian Territory. The Oklahoma Territory 
consisted of two parts, the Cherokee Strip to the north and the Unassigned Lands 


R.Dalitz- G.Stone 


3 ' tZl Tr diSti : iCt ° f P ™ c <*°n, showing also Ohiowa, Roca and Sterling in 
relation to Lincoln, the capital of Nebraska. 

the "Run of 1889"', when hundreds of /housands of intending settlers lining 
the border were informed by a signal that they could then move and stake 
their claim, according to a specified legal procedure. There were many outlaws 
in these lands during the first decade of settlement, but the El Reno district 
had settled down to a law-abiding life by the time that Kosyk settled there M 
early m 1 908. It appears most likely that Kosyk was attracted by this frontier 

to the south, both of which became the property of the U.S. Government in the 
years follow, ng the Civil War. For about three decades after 1861, no settlers were 
permitted to occupy any land in these Territories. 
83 His address at El Reno was 907 South Hoff. 

Mato Kosyk in America 05 

atmosphere; he once described himself as "having a restless disposition". 8 '' 
There was certainly room for missionary work in Oklahoma, and it is on re- 
cord that, in his second year at El Reno, Pastor Kosyk did organize a new 
parish in the community of Union City, about eight miles south of El Reno. 8 ""' 
These were small parishes. In 1908, Kosyk reported 50 communicant members 
for the El Reno parish. In 1909, Kosyk's report gave 30 communicant members 
for the El Reno parish, and 13 for the Union City parish, and the numbers 
remained approximately the same until these parishes disbanded, in the years 
about 1916. 

During these years at El Reno, Kosyk had little personal contact with the 
German Nebraska Synod. In 1908 and thereafter, he was marked "abwesend 
und entschuldigt" on the attendance roll printed in the Minutes for the An- 
nual Conventions of the Synod, until a motion was passed in 1935 that he 
and certain other pastors in retirement should be automatically excused from 
attendance. It was a long and hard journey from Oklahoma to the various 
towns in Nebraska where the Annual Conventions were generally held. 

In Oklahoma, the German-speaking elements among the settlers were pro- 
portionately smaller than had been the case in Nebraska. Consequently, the 
Oklahoma parishes tended to have rather smaller congregations and were 
correspondingly unstable. Further, the occurrence of World War I had a very 
considerable influence on all the German-speaking Synods in America, shrink- 
ing the size of the congregation in every parish and reducing the area covered 
by their active parishes. It was fatal for almost all of the Oklahoma parishes, 
and for the parishes of El Reno and Union City in particular. Fortunately, 
Kosyk was spared the trauma of this period of difficulty and decay for his 
Oklahoma parishes, for he had resigned these pastorships in 1913, in order 
to retire to the farm at Albion (Pushmataha County, Oklahoma) which he had 
purchased in 1908. The Union City parish lapsed on Kosyk's resignation, and 
no successor could be found for the El Reno parish, 8 ' 5 which was disbanded in 
1917. His resignation represented an early retirement, for he was aged only 
60 years at this time. However, his pastorship had become somewhat strenuous 
for him, whereas the family wealth, stemming initially from his wife's inheri- 
tance, 87 made it financially unnecessary for him to continue with this work. 

8 '' See Appendix 

s: ' This is recorded under the heading "Neue Gemeinden" in the Minutes of the 
1909 Annual Convention of the German Nebraska Synod, held 5—10 October at 
Lincoln (Nebraska), as follows: "Pastor M. Kossick, El Reno, Oklahoma, organisierte 
am 25. Oktober 1908 die Ev.-Luth. St. Paulus-Gemeinde zu Union City, Oklahoma." 

Sli The Union City parish does not appear after 1912, nor the El Reno parish after 
1916, in the lists of parish reports (financial and membership) given in the Minutes 
of the Annual Conventions of the German Nebraska Synod. 

87 Wc have no documentary evidence to demonstrate this, but it is plausible, since 
we know (Sec. 3(IX) above) that her mother died in 1891. It is generally believed to 
have been so, by those who knew him at Albion, and the same statement also 
appears on p. 30 of the Story o/ the Midwest Synod. 

n T.^tnni'; A 24/1 

2. Map of the Albion district in the Pushmataha, Latimer and he Flore Counties, Oklahoma, showing the location of Ko- 
syk's house and of all the land owned by him and his family at one time or another. We are much indebted to Mr. 
Chauncey E. Calvin of Talihina for providing us with a large scale map of the country between Talihina and Tuska- 
homa, marked 'with the grid appropriate for locating the lands from the information given by the Land Records at 
Antlers, Oklahoma. 

Mato Kosyk in America ° 7 

Also, he had become rather "hard of hearing", at a time when there was an 
increasing need for him to use the English language, with which he was not 
comfortable. 88 His last sermon at El Reno was given on Sunday Jubilate 1913 
and the family moved to settle at Albion. Probably he never gave any sermons 
after his retirement for there was no Lutheran Church in the County of 
Pushmataha, nor in any of the neighbouring Counties. 80 

However, Pastor Kosyk remained well-known in the German Nebraska 
Synod (later known as the Midwest Synod). In 1938, he was listed as the senior 
pastor of the Synod. In his last two years, 1939 and 1940, he gave many 
substantial donations to further particular institutions and objectives of the 
Synod; most of these are recorded in the Lutherischer Herold, under the 
heading "Quittungen aus dem Schatzamt der Ev. Luth. Synode im Mittel- 
westen". Even after his death, the name of "Kossick" obtruded itself before 
the Synod again and again for many years. 00 This was the result of the land 
donations Kosyk had made to the Synod in 1930-31. The Oklahoma Lands 
Committee (referred to above in Sec. 3(V-VI)) was set up in the Synod about 
1937 to clarify the circumstances concerning the title and the taxes for this 
land, and to administer its use. In 1947, it was recommended that this land 
should be sold, but the legal complications connected with the "Kossick land 
donation" dragged on for some years, until this Committee were able to make 
their final report at the 1952 Annual Convention of the Synod. 

5. Reminiscences of Kosyk's Neighbours and Acquaintances 

In 1973 and 1974 a number of people who had known Kosyk were intervie- 
wed by Richard Dalitz. They are as follows: 

1. Mrs. Nona Ingwin (nee Jackson), who as a child (born 1900) lived 
a mile or two' furftier than KosyiTalong the then main road from Albion 
and passed the Kosyk property every day on her way to school. She knew 
Kosyk well by sight but knew Mrs. Anna Kossick much better. After mar- 
riage she moved to a different part of the district, and thereafter saw the 
Kossicks only rarely. 

2. Mr. Dalpaz Ashworth, a tenant on property owned by Kosyk, for the 

season 1929-30. 

88 Those who knew Kosyk personally, both in the German Nebraska Synod and 
at Albion, state that his English was grammatically excellent, with a good voca- 
bulary, but quite difficult to understand owing to poor pronunciation. 

89 It is frequently stated that Kosyk was pastor of the parish at Albion. This 
misunderstanding probably arises from the entry 'Albion' against his name in the 
list of pastors given in the Annual Minutes of the German Nebraska (and later, 
the Midwest) Synod and in the national directories of all Lutheran pastors, which 
formed part of the various Lutheran Almanacs issued each year. 

90 This occurred to such an extent that some Lutheran pastors otherwise well 
informed have retained the impression that Kosyk was still alive during the work 
of the Oklahoma Lands Committee in the late 1940s. 

68 R. Dalitz - G. Stone 

t ""^MBaSS? ( n ^ Dean). The Dean family were close friends of 
Mrs. Wilma Kossick (nee Filter), who after Kosyk's death moved with all 
her possessions into a house on the Deans' property. Mrs. Barnes is now 
living in Tulsa, Oklahoma. 

4. Mrs. Elnora Bryan (formerly Dupree. nee Danielson), who married Ben 
Dupree in 1919. The Dupree family occupied a farm adjacent to Kosyk's 
farm, north of it and on the opposite side of the main road (at that time) 1 " 
from Albion to the southern parts of Pushmataha County, and Mrs Ben 
Dupree, following her marriage, moved to live on the Dupree farm which 
brought her into close daily contact with the Kossick household for more 
than twenty years. Ben Dupree had been a contemporary and close friend 
of George Kossick and was with him when he died of apoplexy in 1915 
Dupree was an able man with a wide variety of practical skills and after 
George's death, the Kossick family soon came to depend on him for 
guidance and assistance in practical matters arising in the daily work on 
the farm. Thus, for a long period, the Duprees were the Kossicks' closest 
neighbours and friends. After Mato Kosyk's death. Ben Dupree worked 
the Kossick farm, first as a tenant of the Martin Luther Seminary of the 
German Nebraska Synod and later as the owner. The Ben Dupree family 
moved to live in the Kossick house from about 1942 and their purchase 
of the Kossick farm was completed in March 1949. In March 1958 they 
sold the Kossick house and farm to Olen W. Whitfield and retired to 
Tuskahoma (the nearest township to the west ofATbionTBen Dupree died 
there in January 1959, and Mrs. Dupree (still referred to locally by this 
name) married again some years later. Widowed again, Mrs Bryan is 
now living in Tuskahoma. 
• 5. Mr. Clark Chapman, the Kossick family's bank manager in Albion 
(approximately 1920-24), now living at Talihina, Oklahoma. 

6. Mr. Alan and Mrs. Blanche Dry (and Mr. Alan Dry, junior), who were 
tenants on the Kossick farm from March 1940 to 1944, living about a quar- 
ter of a mile from the homestead. They are now living in Albion 

7. Rev. William Goede is the son of Rev. Carl Goede, who was a pastor 
(and at one time president) of the German Nebraska Synod and who in 
the mid-1930s retired to Tuskahoma upon the persuasion of his friend, 
Mato Kosyk. William Goede was appointed by the Synod to look after the 
administration of the land (about 1.7 square miles) which had beenWen 
them by Kosyk (while he retained the right to rent the land, if he so 
desired, and to occupy the house rent-free for the rest of his life). William 
and his family lived in a house on this land, close to Kosyk's house, from 

«n-3 < ll I mai V° ad fr ° m Albion t0 south e™ Pushmataha runs along the 
valley of the Kiamichi river and does not enter the foothills of the Potato Hills 
where the Kossick farm is located. Thus, the present main road runs some distance 
to the south of the Kossick farm. 

Mato Kosyk in America 


May 1936 to July 1937, after which they moved to Tuskahoma in order 
to be closer to his parents there. He was in constant contact with Kosyk 
up to the latter's death. William Goede's wife, Frieda, who had been born 
at Ohiowa during Kosyk's pastorship there and who had been baptized 
by him, was also interviewed. They both now live in retirement in Colo- 

8. Mrs. Thelma Icord, who lived in a house on the Kossick property for 
some years, until May 1941. She and her husband sat with the body of 
Kosyk until midnight on the day he died, following local custom. 

9. Rev. A. B. J. Lentz, the Secretary of the German Nebraska Synod 
1933-41 and author of a large part of the Story of the Midwest Synod 
U.L.C.A., 1890-1950 (see Sec. 3(V) above). He visited Kosyk, probably in 
1937, concerning the land made over to the Synod. In 1939, he wrote a 
letter to Kosyk concerning the meeting of pastors at Sterling in 1890, at 
which the German Nebraska Synod was founded. Kosyk's reply is repro- 
duced here in the Appendix. 

10. Mrs. Hattie Sims (formerly, and still known as, Radcliff), whose first 
husband Mr. Ivan Radcliff was the postmaster in Albion from 1940 until 
his retirement in 1966 and who then acted as postmistress herself until 


11. Mrs. Geraldine Whitfield, the present occupant of the house which 
Kosyk built on his arrival in Albion in 1913 and lived in for the rest of 
his life. Her husband (died July 1960) bought the house from Ben Dupree 

in March 1958. * 

From visits to the area and conversations with these people, it has proved 
possible to compose the following picture of Kosyk's years in America. 

Kosyk's marriage to Anna Wehr was arranged by correspondence 1 '- and her 
reason for coming to America was (according to her own statement) "to 
marry Mr. Kosyk"/ 13 She arrived in the U.S.A. on 5 November 1890 as a pas- 

92 we known from the words of Juro Kula, Kosyk's boyhood friend in Wjerbno, 
that Kosyk had written from America to him and to others in an effort to find 
a wife from Lusatia. Kula attributes the Kosyk-Wehr marriage to the efforts of 
Herr Drabow. Cf. P. Nali, Zetkach pfiwuzneho Mata Kosyka, Nowa doba, 
7 October 1953, p. 4. However, their worlds in Germany were far apart. Kosyk was 
the son of a peasant in Wjerbno, whereas Anna Wehr was the daughter of the 
junker who owned the Rittergut of Duszno. Kosyk's life in Germany was spent 
between Leipzig and Lusatia, whereas she had been born at Duszno and had spent 
all her life with her mother in Kreis Mogilno, in the far east of Posen province. 

93 Anna Kossick said that she had always wanted to go to America and to live 
in the New World, but that her mother would not allow her to go; also, that she 
had always loved the Church and had wished to marry a pastor. Mr. Kosyk had 
been "her bridge to America", she said, since her mother had finally relented and 
let her go to America when she knew that her daughter was going there to marry 
Pastor Kosyk. These statements by Mrs. Anna Kossick were recalled to R. Dalitz, 
quite independently and without leading questions, by both Mrs. Angwin and Mrs. 


R. Dalitz- G.Stone 

enger on the steamship "Werra" of the North German Lloyd line (which had 
saited from Bremen to New York) and reached Princeton, Nebraska, oruy 
H days before the wedding.- Kosyk's own statement that the marriage was 
n»t particularly happy and that his wife was not well inclined towards his 
poetry » borne out by the recollections of those that knew them. Her active 
outgoing personality contrasted with his more restrained and introspective 

WIT,! a \ , ^ P ° PUlai " in the diStriCt as a " doer ° f S°°d works". She 
loved the church and had played the organ at services at El Reno. It is be- 

hT,„ I < f e °f ^ thS dlStdCt that K ° Syk became moderately wealthy as 
Panshes'' tra —«°- both at El Reno and in his earlier Nebraska 

The coolness between the Kossicks increased after the death of their son 
George, a blow which so distressed Anna Kossick that for years afterwards 
she would spend summer evenings weeping beside the grave. George's room 
was left closed and untouched for many years after his death. His body was 
buried at his mother's insistence on the Kossick land beside the road to the 

Z7 I Z A' fa " thSt '^ SUe WaS ° n a "** "*• » "»" «^e grave 
had to be blasted out of the rock. 

diedZ e Zl S T ° ffida! bUrial Sr ° Und ^ Albi ° n at that time - When A >™ 
died in 1929 she was, in accordance with her own request, buried beside her 

oroveH nfrt ^T unmal ' ked ex «P' by wild roses. Mato Kosyk disap- 
ZJJu *?*?* P la <* *osen by his wife, first for her son and later for 
herself, considering a cemetery to be the proper place. In 1915, the nearest 
cemetery was at Talihina, in Le Flore county, about 8 miles to the north-east 
of Albion, but a number of burials had been made in an unofficial cemetery 

LT, , TifT r?' 3n Albi ° n farmer ' By the time <" Anna's death Albion 

Had a Well-established town cemetery. 

Kosyk's land and farm at Albion were purchased while the family was still 
a El Reno. There were two major pieces. The 380-acre piece on which Kosyk 
built his house was in the foothills of the Potato Hills region, straddling Wal- 
nut Creek a stream tributary to the Kiamichi river. The house was built at 
the end of a rocky ridge overlooking this stream and the pasture lands runn- 

Z n7M *° * 5 T agnifkently SCSniC Sita This propert y was the J° in t Posses- 
sion of Mato and Anna, and was purchased in September 1908 from a Choctaw 

half-breed named Martha Johnson and her husband. 5 * This land was on the 

* The date of her arrival was ascertained from the shipping records in the DS. 
National Arch,ves Washington, D.C. It is consistent with^Lyk'ssta ements m 

ves in Ba°utze S n m " r ^ * DeCember 1890) '. *™ in the Soi ' bian Cultural Arch" 
03 Cf. 2 (VI) above 

Mid J^t Sl Pald "J th , S K ° SSicks Was $150 °- ll is of tote"* to remark that the 
was M?o the Pl " ke fGtChed by thG S3le ° f this farm in ^ 

Mato Kosyk in America * 71 

whole unprofitable. Although crops of maize were grown there, 97 it was 
mostly useful for grazing. Just below the house there was an orchard, of 
which Kosyk was especially proud. The 510-acre piece was on the far (south) 
side of the Kiamichi river, on the river flats where the soil was rich and 
fertile. This land was purchased by Anna Kossick in June 1909 from a group 
of landowners who had combined to invest heavily in Albion land when the 
Indian Territory became part of the State of Oklahoma. 98 Only a small part 
of this land had been cleared for farming ; the remainder of it was well wooded 
and provided much timber which went to the saw-mills then operating at 
Albion. A number of smaller pieces of land in the Albion district were also 
purchased by the Kossick family in the years 1908-9; these were mostly 
worked by tenant farmers in later years. To the Kossicks, "the farm" meant 
the hill property on which their homestead stood. Although Mato Kosyk 
worked a good deal in the orchard, especially as an evening relaxation from 
his beloved writing, and took a close interest in the farm animals, the real 
farmer in the family was George, at the time when the Kossick family settled 
at Albion. 

Their closest neighbours were the Duprees, with whom they had daily 
contact. Mrs. Bryan (formerly Dupree) recalls how in the 1920s Anna Kossick 
would visit them almost every evening for the warmth of conversation. Some- 
times Mato would come down to their house with his notebook and tell them 
about the poem he was writing. He would try to explain it to them in English, 
but often complained that his poetry did not fit the English language well. 
The Dupree family were often called in to translate his English to local people 
who had business with him. Although they did not know German, the Du-* 
prees could understand the English spoken by Germans, having grown up with 
German-speaking neighbours in other places. 

During the last twenty years of his life, Mato Kosyk spent most of his days 
in his study, reading and writing, with his shelves of books beside him. In 
winter months he used to sit by a kerosene lamp, wearing a green eye-shade. 
Whenever his tenants or others came to see him on business, he would come 
out and deal with them briefly, then return to his study. He was hard of hear- 
ing, although not severely so, and this, together with his difficulty in making 
himself understood in English, seems to have made human contact difficult 
for him. In \the Albion district he was generally regarded as an unapproa- 

97 The following news item, in the 9 July 1915 issue of the Albion Advocate, 
attests to this and gives some flavour of the Albion community. It reads (in full): 
"Mrs. Annie Kosick (sic) was in the city Thursday and reports the corn crop on her 
place is fine." 

D8 The price paid for this land was $800. In October 1909, the ownership was 
transferred to George Kossick for a price of $1500, a rather curious transaction. In 
July 1950, this land, together with a further 190 acres which Mato Kosyk had 
purchased for $640 in 1909, was sold by the Midwest Synod for $1310, according 
to the records of its Committee on Oklahoma Land Holdings. 

72 R. Dalitz- G.Stone 

chable and difficult man, mistrustful of those who came across his path. 
Those who came closer to him considered that he had been given good reason 
to be mistrustful of local people. The latter considered him wealthy and 
therefore fair game, and this was a rough district, outside U.S. civil law until 
1908. Small-holders would borrow money from him to buy seed for their 
crops, then spend it at once on other goods with no attempt at repayment. 
Much timber simply disappeared from his river property, and people would 
help themselves to his corn and cotton crops when his back was turned. How- 
ever, those who borrowed from him for their crops and paid their debts when 
harvest time came, found him fair and willing to support them again when 
there was need, but these people were few. 

Kosyk's social contacts were essentially limited to the Dupree, Goede and 
Bailey families."" However, even Carl and William Goede, who were well- 
educated, had little interest in his thoughts and his poetry. William Goede 
recalls Kosyk offering them copies of his volumes of poetry, which, being 
unable to understand them, they did not accept. Later, after Kosyk's death, 
William Goede asked his widow whether he might have one of these books, 
as a keepsake, but she would not allow any of Kosyk's writings out of her 
possession, regarding them as of great value, even though she could not under- 
stand them. 

There was no Lutheran church in Pushmataha County, nor in the adjacent 
counties. Although Rev. W. Goede preached regularly at the Methodist Church 
in Albion, after it became no longer possible to find a circuit rider, Kosyk 
neither preached nor even attended church during his 38 years there. His lan- 
guage difficulties, together with denominational scruples, are sufficient to ex- 
plain this. 

We know from Kosyk's writings of his interest in the American Indians, 10 " 
and the fact that the Choctaw Nation had their Capitol, their meeting-place 
and centre of government, quite close to Albion might well be thought signi- 
ficant. Their fine Council House, erected in 1883 when they still governed 
these lands, stands about five miles west of Albion, near Tuskahoma. Rev. 
W. Goede, however, who lived at Tuskahoma and knew the chief of the Choc- 
taw Nation quite well,"" does not recall Kosyk showing any interest in them. 

98 J. M. Bailey was one of the earliest settlers at Albion; indeed, it was he who 
named the township, in memory of his native England. John Bailey worked to 
attract suitable settlers to the district, to build up the township he had established, 
and played a large part in Kosyk's decision to invest in Albion land. The Kossick 
family frequently went to Bailey for local advice in their earliest years at Albion, 
and soon grew to trust him completely. For this reason, and because Mrs. Bailey 
was from a German family, these two families became quite close, 
mo p or example, Rozgrono z Indianom, Indianarka, and Indianka 
101 His name was Durante and he served as Sunday School Superintendent at 

Mato Kosyk in America 73 

He even doubts whether Kosyk ever met any members of the Choctaw tribe. 102 
There is also to this day a settlement of negroes living several miles west of 
Albion (descendants of the slaves brought by the Choctaws from Mississippi 
when they were moved thence into the Indian Territory in the 1830s), but 
there is nothing to show that Kosyk had any contact with them either. 

After settling on his farm at Albion, Kosyk acquired much land in an un- 
intentional way. In those early years, many people took advantage of his 
kindly and trusting nature to borrow large sums of money from him against 
the security of land which was overvalued (often with official connivance). In 
due course they would default, leaving him with this land, which he could 
not sell without suffering a great loss. 103 Kosyk was liable for taxes on all this 
land, until finally, faced with growing and intolerable taxes on land which 
was unproductive and had little sale value, 104 he decided to donate his property 
to the Church, which would be protected by the United States law exempting 
religious and charitable holdings from taxes. He took this action soon after 
his wife's death. The 510 acres down by the Kiamichi river were transferred 
to the ownership of the German Nebraska Synod in June 1930 and were 
thenceforth referred to as the Synodical farm. The ownership of the hill farm 
with the homestead was transferred to the Martin Luther Seminary (of the 
German Nebraska Synod) at Lincoln, Nebraska, in July 1931 and Kosyk's 
farm was thenceforth referred to as the Seminary farm. 

In the early 1920s, Mato Kosyk said that, if he outlived Anna, he would 
leave his land and his possessions to his native village. 105 The reason why this 
was not done is probably given by the story we have just told. In a letter 10 
to Bogumil Swjela in 1929, Kosyk wrote: ? 

Ty wesce gronis: „Wudaj se zasej domoj!" - Rad, gaby te farmy tudy 
psedas mogt Howacej to njejzo. 
He could not sell the farms, and he could not afford to continue paying the 


°- However, Rozgrono z Indianom describes a meeting and conversation with a 
Choctaw Indian in the Albion district in 1927/8. 

103 He described his feelings about one such episode, which took place shortly 
before the death of his wife, in a letter to Bogumil Swjela dated 19 February 1929. 
See Mato Kosyk : Wuberk z jogo spisow, pp. 131— 3 

i0 '« In the late 1920s, many small landowners could not meet their county property 
taxes and had to default, surrendering their land to the county authorities. As a 
result, there was much land for sale in Pushmataha County and the price fetched 
by land which had cost $2 to $5 an acre in 1910 fell to $0.25 an acre by 1930. 

Wj a recollection given us by Mrs. Nona Angwin. 

1(Xi See note 103 above \ 

107 We cannot be precise aboiit this date. Rev. W. Goede visited Albion with his 
parents and his family, and camped for some time on the Seminary farm, during 
the summer of 1934. Wilma Filter was not in Albion at that time. We know that 
she came to Albion before 14 March 1936 because that is the date on a land transfer 
deed, recording the sale to Wilma Filter, for a nominal sum, of 80 acres of Kosyk 
land in another part of the Albion district. 


R. Dalitz - G. Stone 

taxes on them. He could simply have walked off them, leaving them to the 
county, and returned to Lusatia, but beyond these properties he had only 
a modest capital, perhaps insufficient to give him a secure future in Lusatia, 
at the age of 77 years. At Albion, he had free use of his house and sufficient 
capital in reserve to see him through to the end of his life, and he had friends, 
the Duprees and the Goedes, close at hand for emergencies. The decision he 
made seems inevitable, given his circumstances. 

After the death of Anna, Mato Kosyk had a lonely and difficult time. He 
advertised for a housekeeper many times, but the girls who took the post 
generally left after some months, owing to the loneliness of the house, and, 
since they did not know German, the difficulties of communicating with Ko- 
syk. In the early 1930s a young housekeeper was hired from Germany pro- 
bably through a Lutheran organization there, and Kosyk was very pleased 
with her. Mr. Ashworth recalls meeting them in Albion, when Kosyk intro- 
duced the young lady with him, saying, "This is my nurse. She has come to 
close my eyes." But the girl died at Albion three months after her arrival, and 
Kosyk again sought local help. 

In 1935, in reply to an advertisement for a nurse-housekeeper, Wilma Filter 
was engaged by Kosyk. 107 She was German-born but came to him from the 
German-speaking area of Texas. Those who knew her then describe her as 
short, blond and heavily built. She spoke fluent German and broken English, 
which the local people nevertheless found easier to understand than that spo- 
ken by Kosyk. From Kosyk's death certificate, we know that she was 58 years 
old when he died. According to several local people, she had at one time 
been a nurse in a German Army hospital, probably around the time of the 
First World War and the Dry family heard from her that she had had one 
of her breasts torn off by a bayonet. She stayed with Kosyk until his death, 
and there, is no doubt that her presence alleviated his difficulties during the 
last years of his life. •- 

In 1938 Kosyk and Wilma Filter took the train to Talihina (in Le Flore 
County), where they were married by a Justice of the Peace. The exact date 
of their marriage is not known, because the record was destroyed by a fire 
in Talihina in 1945, but the latest document known to us to bear the signature 
"Wilma Filter" is dated 13 June 1938. 108 The earliest document we have (a land 
transfer deed) ,oy with the signature "Wilma Kossick" is dated 21 October 1938. 
We therefore presume the marriage to have taken place between those dates. 
It was done so quietly that only those who were closest to the Kossicks knew 
about it. 

After Kosyk's death his house reverted to the Martin Luther Seminary, 

m A letter written by her to B. Svvjela, now held in the Sorbian Cultural Archi- 

m Recording the sale of 50 acres of land owned by Mrs. W. Kossick to Leonard 

Ma to Kosyk in America * 75 

according to the agreement made in 1931. Wilma Kossick packed up all her 
husband's books, papers and other belongings and left the house within several 
days. She stayed with the Dean family for some months and the children of 
the family who were then aged 10-15 years, recall her arrival and her stay 
with them. She advertised for a position as nurse or housekeeper and early 
in 1941 110 she left, with her boxes of possessions, for an unknown destination, 
probably in Texas. 

There was a local belief that the Kosyk family had great wealth, but this 
belief had little basis in fact by the 1920s, according to their bank manager 
and business adviser, Mr. Chapman." 1 The monetary gifts to the Church in 
his last two years (see 3(11— III) above), together with the earlier gifts of pro- 
perty to the Martin Luther Seminary and the German Nebraska Synod, repre- 
sent the major part of Kosyk's wealth, after the death of Anna. In addition, 
he gave substantial areas of land to Carl and Frieda Goede (in 1931 and 1936, 
respectively) and to his future wife, Wilma Filter (in 1936). Although the land 
made over to the Church appeared at first to be merely a liability, it proved 
in the long run to be an asset and was eventually sold for a substantial sum. 112 
The Kosyk family were no doubt better off than their neighbours, but they 
lived frugally, supporting themselves from the produce of their farm. They 
had no vehicle other than a heavy farm-cart, and generally walked wherever 
they needed to go. 

In his last years thoughts of death were often with Mato Kosyk, as his 
poetry of that period shows. He frequently spoke of his approaching end and 
made preparations for it. He asked his friend and neighbour, Ben Dupree, to 
make a plain coffin for his burial. He bought the wood for it at the saw-mil} 
in Albion and supervised its construction. He gave instructions that he should 
be buried according to the rites of the Lutheran Church, to be performed by 
Carl and Wiliam Goede, in the Albion cemetery — "in the proper place" (as 
he said) — and not beside his wife and son on the farm. 

Although enfeebled by age in his last few years and often ill then for days 
at a time, Kosyk's health was generally good. Indeed, his vigour was some- 

110 She stayed at least until 30 January 1941, the date on a deed signed by her, 
recording the sale of her remaining\land to T. H. Myers. 

111 Let us briefly estimate their wealth in their last years at El Reno. They were 
then purchasing much Albion land, for a total expenditure of $3225, as far as we 
can trace their transactions. They also owned appreciable saleable land at El Reno. 
We have seen a $1500 bond (15 shares at $100 each in the Choctaw Portland Cement 
Works) purchased by Kosyk in 1910 (but valueless today), and there may well have 
been other such investments. To estimate their capital at El Reno is less straight- 
forward. We believe that their bank balance was about $3000 in the early 1920s. 
Also, they had built a house on their farm, and they had made substantial loans to 
persons not known to us, to judge by the area of land which had come to them 
through mortgage default. It appears reasonable to conclude that their wealth at 
El Reno was not less than $10,000, a rather considerable sum in those days. 

J1 - Cf. note 98 above 

/G R. Dalitz - G. Stone 

times quite striking, as we know from the report of the committee which 
inspected his property in 1936 (see p. 52 above). His final illness, however, 
lasted only a few days and news of it had not reached his friends at Tuska- 
noma before he was dead. 

Since there was no Lutheran church within at least 50 miles of Albion there 
had to be a compromise in the funeral ceremony. The most appropriate local 
church was Methodist and the church service was carried out there according 
to the Methodist rite. At the graveside, Pastor C. Goede performed the Luthe- 
ran funeral service, assisted by Pastor W. Goede, both wearing the appro- 
priate vestments. This much surprised some of the local people who were not 
familiar with the Lutheran or Catholic religious practices. A few days after 
the interment a simple grave-stone was set up by Ben Dupree, in accordance 
with wishes expressed to him by Kosyk, with the following inscription: 

Matthew Kossick 
June 18, 1853 
Nov. 22, 1940 


The following letter was written by Mato Kosyk in reply to a letter from 
Rev. A. B. J. Lentz, who was the Secretary of the Midwest Synod at that time 
requesting information from Kosyk concerning details about the meeting of 
Pastors in Sterling (Nebraska) at which the new Church at Sterling was dedi- 
cated, and at which the Pastors gathered there discussed for several days and 
finally established the German Nebraska Synod. This letter was found' in the 
Archives of the Nebraska Synod at Omaha by Rev. H. Farstrup in response 
to a letter of enquiry from us, and we are glad to acknowledge here the con- 
siderable assistance which he gave us in connection with our enquiries 

It is written partly in Fraktur (evidently Kosyk's own hand) and partly in 

Latin script (probably the hand of Wilma Kossick writing at Kosyk's dic- 

py aW „„ T . , „ , _ Albion, Okla. 24 April 1939 

Fraktur Lieber Bruder Lentz! 

Da nach Ihrem frdl. Brief v. Apr. 17 die numerierten Fragen meist die 
Emweihung der Kirche in Sterling betreffen, so kann ich sie leider nicht 
beantworten, weil ich bei der Einweihung nicht zugegen war, wohl aber 
bei der Griindung der Synode am 24 Juli 1890 mittatig gewesen. Damals 

T art* vi k « S , ein Teil der Gemeinde in St. meine Landleute waren nam- 

hch Soraben oder Serben Oder jetzt meist als Wenden bekannt aus der 
Niederlausitz. - (Da Herr P. Kossick sich nicht wohl fuhlt, so bittet er ' 
mich nach seinem Diktat weiter zu schreiben.) Das veranlafit mich vom 
Skeleton Questionaire einiges zu beantworten: geboren 18. Juni 1853 in 
Werben, b. Cottbus. Angefangen deutsch zu lernen im 9ten Lebensjahr 
und Latein im 13. L.Jahr bei dem Dorfpastor. Nach Besuch des Gymna- 
siums zu Cottbus war ich aus Liebe zum Volk und Muttersprache in wen- 
discher Literatur tatig gewesen. Bereits durch verschiedene Gedichte die 

Mato Kosyk in America 






allgemeines Gefallen gefunden, wurde ich von der Geistlichkeit zur Mit- 
arbeit am neuen Kirchengesangbuch aufgemuntert, da im alten jede Vers- 
zeile in richtiges Metrum and Endreim zu bringen war. Daneben sind spa- 
ter weitere Erzeugnisse erscheinen als: 

1) Sserbska Swaiba (im hexametrischen VersmaB geschriebene Hochzeits- 

2) Sserbska sberka dolnosserbskich peBriow (Heft von 42 Gedichten) 

3) Pscherada markgrofa Gera (langere epische Dichtung) 

4) Dom a swet (Heimat u. Fremde (Welt) 2 Bucher iiber 200 Gedichte) 
Als ein immer etwas unruhiger Erdenpilger verzog ich nach Amerika 
studierte weiter in Springfield und Chikago, 111. und wurde 1885 in der 
Wartburg Synode zu Mt Pulaski zum Pfarramt ordiniert. Bedient folgende 
Gemeinden: Wellsburg, la., Ridgely, Neb., Princeton, Neb., Stamford, 
Neb., Ohiowa, Neb., und El Reno, Okla. 

In Ruhestand getreten 1914. 

Die Gemeinde in Princeton ist so viel ich weiB gegrundet von P. Stock- 

feld, der zugleich Dr. der Medizin war. Nach seiner Resignation wurde ich 

sem Nachfolger. Wie gehort ist die Gemeinde langst eingegangen, viel- 

leicht wegen Abnahme der Glieder, deren Bestand schon zu meiner Zeit 

unsicher erschien. 

Mit bruderlichem Gru!3 M. Kossick 

P. S. Wie bekannt, haben in Texas die Wenden der Oberlausitz (Kgr. 

Sachsen) unter ihrem P. Kilian die Stadt Serbin u. Gemeinde gegrundet. 

Jedenfalls wird das ihren Herrn Vater 113 interessieren oder schon bekannt 

sein - aber auch die Sprachen vergehen, ihr Grabesgelaut hier schon 

Jangst ausgeklungen, im alten Vaterlande ertonen sie noch in ihrer 

(< eigenen Melodie" die Glocken singend von ratselhafter Zeitlichkeit"' 1 

iiber Vergangenheit und Ewigkeit. 

i. e. Rev. Rudolf Lentz, who entered the German Nebraska Synod in 1909. H« 
had been ordained in the Texas Synod in 1897 and spent 12 years in Texas parishes, 
where he would have learned about the Texas Upper Sorbian settlements. 
u » Alternative reading: "voll ratselhafter Zartlichkeit". 


R. Daliiz - G. Stone 

1. Photograph of Mate Kosyk and fami- 
ly. It is believed that this photograph 
. was taken by their neghbour and friend, 
Ben Dupree, in 1914 or early 1915. 

2. The grave of Mato Kosyk, in the Albion cemetery. Photograph taken in July 1973. 

• ■ ■■;■ - sv- '- .=., 

Mato Kosyk in America 

';:•<;'• * '.'</ ••':■■; • v 


3. The house built by Mato Kosyk on his farmland. View from the orchard, taken 
November 1955. 

4. The house built by Mato Kosyk on his farmland. View from the rear, taken No- 
vember 1955.